Imperial Cherry Saison | Southern Tier Brewing Company

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Imperial Cherry SaisonImperial Cherry Saison

Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.10%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Bighuge on 06-07-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 329 |  Reviews: 296
Photo of Bighuge
4.59/5  rDev +30%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Glowing, hazy golden. Thin light beige head. Lace is minimal.

Aroma: Oh, it's got cherry. But it's got so much more. Like bread pudding. And sourdough yeastiness. And spicy peppery notes.

Taste: The taste follows suit. Quite remarkable. I had hesitations that this could be a cloying cherry bomb, but it's not. It's a nicely integrated beer. Great cookie dough malt base. There's just the right amount of cherry. Spicy, peppery accents. A little damp earth and cork. Some estery yeast accents. Oh, this is really good.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Medium bodied and moderately carbonated. For an 8% a/v, I find very few signs of alcohol on the buds. More of a lingering of pleasing phenolics if anything.

Southern Tier is now a Top 10 Brewery in my personal ratings. I've had enough. Tasted enough great beer from them to give them this designation. Great brewery. Hell, they could be in my Top 5. But that requires a little more thought on a different night.

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Photo of wiesike
4.57/5  rDev +29.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

sweet jesus this beer was drinkable!
popped it open in the afternoon and poured it into a snifter-style glass. orangish-amber color with a nice white head that stuck around for a while. smell was fairly typical of the belgian saison style with a nice hint of spice, and very mild undertones of cherry/sour hintings, with just an inkling of the oak. the taste followed through on those notes bigtime. all of the elements in the nose were there...too many beers are dominated by oak when they use it and this just had the lightest touch...very nice, and perfectly offset by the souring cherry elements made this a hell of a balanced take on the style, especially for an effort bringing several new elements in at the same time...the alchohol was barely noticeable at all, the mouthfeel/carbonation/flavors all crisp enough to make this refreshing on a summer afternoon...i hadn't planned on drinking this all in one sitting by my lonesome, but i couldn't stop myself, and when it was done i just wanted more...another awesome effort from probably my favorite smallscale brewery...their "bigbeer" efforts just keep on impressing...thank goodness their distribution now reaches dc...highly recommended if you see it on your local beershelves

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Photo of boston2bburg
4.56/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a majestic hazy blush-gold with a modest white head that hides on the edges of the glass. Not much lacing, but oh well.

The initial aroma is grass and hay from the yeast, with a touch of cherry. Very clean, and gains strength with time. More of a sweet, honey-cherry-smokey oak flavor with warmth, which puts the first few whiffs to shame. Served outside on a warm day, it should be spectacular.

I should mention that I've had but one Hoppe and two Unearthlys at out of state beer bars and loved them both, so I was ecstatic about seeing four of their selections at the local beer store this week. First sip is verrry complex on the palate, but I'll take a stab at it: the first thing I get is mustard seed of all things. I've never tasted anything like it in a beer. Mint, oregano, tomato/ketchup, grass, oak trees, a babbling brook, and a partly cloudy sky may also be found here. And some vanilla and cherry. Theres a dry bitterness attributable to the magnum hops but not an overwhelming hop flavor. They show up more on the nose.

Mouthfeel full for a saison yet it sits easily on the palate and has a pleasant spicy kick on the finish. Speaking of kick, there's a pleasant warmth building in my chest and buzzing in my legs as I tackle the final 5 or so sips. With this beer, Southern Tier has done nothing to remove itself from the top 3-4 of my favorite breweries.

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Photo of oelergud
4.54/5  rDev +28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tall brown 650ml glass bottle. Pry-off cap. Label shows a pickup overloaded by a giant cherry.
Clear straw body topped by an off-white small bubbled head. Good retention and lace.
Amazing scent of cherry, malts and great hops.
Sweet malts with just enough cherry to be great without being too much. Good spice, marzipan and good hops.
Medium body and coating with a slightly dry finish.
Great drinkability.


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Photo of tavernjef
4.48/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Muted pale gold with a solid finger high head of solid white foam thats lush and lumped with a substantial girth that lasts fro good duration. Lacing sticks in long stings and globuls as it sits and consumed.

Aroma is fruity and sweet with a clean tone of cherry, pear, and melon with a wheaty/bread doughy freshness and tender zip of musty grassy spices.

Nice flavors, a nice easy meld of creamy/milky breads and tender fruityness that touches on the cherry lifted with melon, dull, rounded citrus, and pears and red apples. Very nice saison touches of wet or musty grassy herbs and grassy spices that make for wholesome treat of goodness.

Nice medium toned bodt with a clean mold of creamyness that is remarkably wholesome and vibrant with a great touch of spices that last in the finish resonating with left over malty sweetness of doughy breads and fruity nuances.

Drinkable by the gallons! Super drinkable and an absolutely fine tasting brew by Southern Tier! Yum!

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Photo of supercolter
4.42/5  rDev +25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was a fantastic beer. Appearance is good, some head and a bit of lacing. Smell and taste are very good lots of chery comes through of course, but also the expected heavy spice and a nice balance of hops. Mouthfeel is good, light to medium in body and a decent amount of carbonation. Drinkability, goes down easy.

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Photo of Nipitato
4.42/5  rDev +25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased a bomber at Julio's Liquors in Westborough, MA.

A: Moderate gold hue. Slightly cloudy from wheat. Virtually no head. Visibly effervescent.

S: Melon and cherry aroma but the cherry is restrained well. Just a touch of oak. Hay and grass mingle with some farmhouse funk but all of this is restrained and well balanced. Candied sugar also adds to character. This is a really nice aroma.

T: Candied sugar taste is noticeable up front. Slight cherry sourness at the end. Pears and melon flavors and a touch of oak are noticeable. Hay and grass but no farmhouse funk elements. Overall this has a well rounded malt flavor.

MF: A full and creamy mouthfeel with mild but spritzy carbonation.

D, notes: This is great tasting beer with a nice rounded malt flavor. Oak and cherries compliment each other wonderfully. Good drinkability.

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Photo of russpowell
4.41/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this an extra from rciesla, mad props to Ryan! Hazes a bit at the bottom, nice oily/vicious sheen, some lacing & head retention

Pours a chilled hazed apricot with 2 fingers of beige head.

S: Apple skins by the bushel, peach,& other orchard fruits, plus honey

T: Appleskins, honey, lemony hops, a bit of passion fruit & some sour cherry up front. Dryness, cherry pits, & a strong kiss of boozeyness & more peaches as this warms. Finishes a bit sour, a bit green apple tart with honey, peaches & some lemony hops, nice Summer beer!

MF: Slick, medium bodied with moderate carbonation & a nice warming sensation

Drinks pretty easy, the tartness/sourness really sucks you in, beware the somewhat hidden ABV! I saw a much peach as cherry in this one, this was way better than I thought it would be, but Southern Tier usually delivers the goods. This is a very nice saison! Might be too clean tasting for some purists

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Photo of WesWes
4.38/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a beautiful gold color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a wonderful pale malt scent along with fruity yeast esters and a light cherry aroma. It has a slight oak/farmhouse mustiness to it. The taste is great! There is a lot going on with this beer. It's got all traditional saison characteristics, but the cherry flavor adds a smoothness to the finish. It's not as dry and musty as some. The malt content is excellent. There is a bit of malt sweetness that lends itself well with the cherry and yeast ester components. I'm only detecting a minimal oak contribution. The mouthfeel is outstanding. It's a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. It find most saisons to be a little overcarbonated. This one is on point. I'm a big fan of this beer. I know everyone wants to emulate the Belgian styles to a tee, but I would like to see some Americanised versions. It's worked for a lot of styles. Why not these?

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Photo of becktone
4.37/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From notes 9-4-09

Eye: This one pours extremely clear and golden yellow. Carbonation looks low. Nice head formation but bad retention, could be this glass... Otherwise this looks very good.

Nose: Spiciness from a saison yeast strain are evident. The yeast comes through quite nicely. Cherry is blended in with the aroma, its not overpowering but is there in just enough amount to be noticed and add complexity. Some alcohol is there too. Maybe some banana and clove phenols. Very nice smelling beer.

Tongue: Very nice saison. Yeasty and spicy. Alcohol adds some complexity as well. Just hints at cherries as in the aroma. I was afraid when buying this that the cherry would be real upfront and would hide the saison part of the beer. Its combined perfectly. Cherry flavor is there and just backs the yeast profile on this beer. Very nicely done. Some oak tones come out as well. Not really all that grassy and farmhouse like, guess not all saisons have to be. Hints of sweetness and cherry character upfront when its going into the mouth...after that spiciness takes over. Definitely worth a try. Southern Tier does it again, they do not disappoint.

Feel and Drinkability: Finish is going toward dry, complimenting the higher alcohol and oakiness. Carbonation is spot on... spritzy and fine but not too overpowering. It adds instead of detracts from the beer. Aftertaste is long lasting, peppery spiciness comes through. This is one that I'll enjoy drinking, and will drink again. Definitely one of the better saisons out there. Don't hold a candle though to Fantome.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.37/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Cloudy golden wheat color. Minimal white head with a nice showing of lacing.

S: Cheries up front. Then the yeast gives us a whiff to let us know it is there. You really can smell the oak in this beer which is unusual for a wood aged beer. Slight funk in there as well. Super complex.

T: Starts off with hints of oak. The oak and cherries basically are playing off of one another. Really sweet as well. The cherries are really there. Cherries really do come out as it warms. Hints of a saison in the middle.

M: Really different mouthfeel. Goes down so easy. Carbonation is really low but it works.

D: This one could get you in trouble. On tap may jesus be with you because you are beyond the help of all others. Dangerously drinkable. Again as other said do not expect the over the top cherry like Choklat and Jahva but damn this is good. Wonder how this would age?

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Photo of MusicaleMike
4.37/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Special 50th Review (from the cellar)

Bomber reads on the label that it is brewed with malted white wheat, belgian candied sugar, and cherries as adjuncts, and then is aged for who knows how long with French Oak staves. I poured this into my Michelob tulip glass while listening to Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sheherazade".

A: A big egg shell-white spongy head sits atop a radiant, but hazy, golden body. The head collapses down a little, becoming more compact, and then leaves a decent amount of lacework. Haziness is good for saison style, head is good for almost any style.

S: This beer has a beautiful aroma! It is perfect. It combines tradition with a twist. The saison style shines though, with a good yeasty presence. However, sour cherry sits right there in the immediate background. There are many different notes, creating a wonderfully complex smell, including green apple, ripened bananas, and black pepper. From a distance there is a sweet malt smell that is balanced by a light hop character.

T: The flavor is surprising! It definitely does not match up with the big, fruity smell. It is more earthy and thick than expected. I can tell that this is where the oak aging comes into play... The Belgian candied sugar is a major factor in the taste, which at first I somehow interpreted as tasting like tomato sauce on a pizza. Malt flavor is doughy, biscuit, and very present. The hop bitterness is more towards the finish and in the aftertaste. There are notes of black pepper, vanilla, and egg white. The oak adds a nice roundness to the flavor profile and is probably contributing to the vanilla notes in the aftertaste as well, combining well with the light cherry flavor and slight orange peel on the breath.

M: Full-bodied and rich, almost syrupy, but without overdoing it. The alcohol give off a nice warmth in the mouth, reminding you that this is an "IMPERIAL SERIES". Carbonation is minimal and smooth. The alcohol is what gives this beer its bite on the tongue.

D: This is a tasty beer, however the 8% abv will limit the extent to which one could consume this in a night. I would have this beer again, and especially with some good food. Cherry cheesecake? Cherry-glazed duck? I am making my mouth water...

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Photo of yesyouam
4.34/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Southern Tier Cherry Saison is a pretty clear, sparkling and golden with a bubbly white head that fades to a bubbly white film. The aroma is of cherry and oak. It smells lively and fresh. It is very smooth; medium bodied with a slightly syrupy finish. There is lots of oak in the flavor, with notes of black pepper, orange peel, curacao and leather. It is very complex and well balanced. The aftertaste is all oak-- almost like bourbon. It's very satisfying. The cherry is very subtle. It's a very wooden taste. It's more like cherry furniture. It's bold and unique, as I've come to expect from Southern Tier. I really like this beer.
(rated Sep 21, 2008)

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Photo of RocPorterFanatic
4.3/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Yet another great offering from Southern Tier. I wasn't sure what to expect from this. An imperial saison? Sounds intriguing, great brewery with a knack for imperial beers, should be good. From the get-go, poured into a 20oz bubble glass, little to no head. Smell is fruity but not intensly, the cherries are well hidden. The taste is spicy, nutmeg and allspice seem present. Then WHAM!!!! Alcohol. Its almost burning at time. This beer does not disappoint. It would be a great aperitif or dessert beer. It reminds me of the Trou-Norman or "Normandy Hole" the speak of in northern France, where you drink a sweet but potent liquor between courses of a large dinner to "burn" a hole in your stomach so you can eat more. Very tasty and once again a great offering from Southern Tier.

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Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.27/5  rDev +21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- I'd have to say this looks like a sparkling cider in color, or even like a BMC product. I'm wondering how this is going to taste. I'm a bit nervous, but not all clear beer is bad.

S- I can smell fruits, and for some reason I'm thinking and feeling Wit. I smell a cherry/cranberry smell, which since it is a Cherry Saison I would hope there would be cherry there. With the yeast pour the breadyness and yeast comes through.

T- What I can relate this to is like a weak malt cherry tea. The cherry flavor is there, but the spices and flavor in this is are very indicative of a good herbal tea. Great herbal flavors, a touch of mint, and the cherry is very tasty with this. The cherry taste is not overwhelming, but tastes similar to the smell of cherry blossoms. With the yeast pour there is more bread taste, but at the same time it brings out more herbal notes in the beer.

M- Feels good, not too over carbonated, yet feels smooth.

D- Very drinkable. Not too bitter, but yet smooth and relaxing. A perfect night cap to the end of a great day.

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Photo of KeefD
4.25/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a hazy golden color with a nice inch worth of foam and some delicate lacing being left down the glass. Smell is typical farmhouse funk. Slightly sweet. Is this thing from Belgium? Taste is sweet up front, a little sourness in the middle, and dry on the finish. I don't know if it was just me, but I didn't get any big hits of cherry in the flavor. Slightest nuance of cherry in the background which makes it hard to believe it's there. Full-bodied, almost creamy, very slick on the tongue. Alcohol can be felt, but it's hidden quite well for 8%. A very nice saison that I enjoyed very much. Southern Tier's Imperial series are quickly becoming some of my favorites.

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Photo of JRod1969
4.25/5  rDev +20.4%

Photo of corey0212
4.25/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a glowing, slightly opaque golden color, nice creamy white head that fades somewhat quickly and leaves spotty lacing on the glass. Smells great! Nice wheaty/yeast aroma, a touch of banana and cherry, lots of spice in the nose. Really just a minimal amount of cherry flavor, but it's there, and it works. Spicy on the tongue, and I'm getting plenty of smoky flavor from the oak on the back end. A bit of a drying finish, really finely carbonated, some lingering spice and bitterness. I love it.

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Photo of Billolick
4.23/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ouncer, w/o freshness info on the bottle, but this stuff is brand new, tasting good and a welcome addition to the continuing to impress/improve ST line up. Pours cloudy medium apricot amber, moderate light tan creamy head and then a thick tiny bubble film.Lacing is fine, and scattered. Cherry, wood and a hint of smoke in the nose. Imperial saison, gotta love it! Nicely crafted, complex, with notes of moderate cherry, undertones of wood, peppery spice and resiny hops. Creamy soft on the tongue, very smooth mouthfeel. More aromatic cherry as it warms up a bit. yeasty, with small chunks in the final swirled pour. Very enjoyable, love the style (is their officially one for this stuff?) Hopefully this will be widely available for many years to come.

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Photo of ommegoose
4.23/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased from Evanston First Liquors for $6.49 a bomber. Looked new, so I was excited to try it.

Served mildly chilled. Was close to room temperature by the end.

Poured into a small snifter. Orange-gold with several active carbonation streams. The head is a soft milky white. I was expecting it to really explode like many other saisons, but this was more subdued. Stayed at a steady cap on top. Streaky lacing sticks around the edges. Great color. Adding the yeast turns it into an opaque peach color.

One can't help but expect to find cherries immediately in the aroma, but they are far less present than I expected. They come across as more tart than sweet. After that, typical farmhouse aromas appear. A little grassiness, some pepper, a touch of vanilla. I feel like this should have a much stronger nose than it does, even though it was suitably complex.

I can't say I'm disappointed in the taste, even though there was nowhere near the cherry flavor I was expecting. It's wonderfully complex. Cherries linger, but never dominate the farmhouse aspects. Crisp wheat, doughy yeastiness, vanilla, sweet and tart cherry and apple, white pepper, clove, lemon zest, some funk. A mild but sharp hop bitterness. Finishes sour and dry with lemon and mild cherry. Adding the yeast actually seemed to bring out more fruit flavor. I didn't really notice alcohol on the palate unless I looked for it. This was very good, but I feel like with a little tweaking they'd have a big hit.

Similar to some of Southern Tier's other offerings, this features super-fine carbonation leading to a soft, delicate mouthfeel that suits this beer perfectly. It maintains a medium light body in the mouth without fizzing up, allowing the palate to be explored fully. Well done. Even after flattening out a bit towards the end, it stays juicy and smooth.

This is a lot less extreme than the other offerings in the Imperial line from ST. It's not quite like the other saisons I've had, but it's no cherry oaky monster. It's not really any more extreme than a Hennepin even. I sipped on this one for quite a while. I'm not sure that having a full stomach slowed me down a lot, or if it was just a lot of work to down a bomber. While I would hog a bomber of most of their brews for myself, I wouldn't mind sharing this one.

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Photo of johanvond
4.23/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On the opening of the bottle the aroma released is of hay, funk, with a slight hit of oak, but it tempered by the cherry sweetness. It's golden honey hue with a quickly disipating head. There's a plesant viscous body with that classic saison funk, oak alcohol, minor bitterness, but then the cherry becomes apperant. This is a well ballenced saison. All the flavors have there time but you get an extra bit of funk in the end. Oh that glorious funk.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.23/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in a fluted glass.

L - hazy, golden color with a fluffy white head that stayed as a layer leaving sticky bits of lacing behind.

S - Saison aroma, yeast, wheat malt, slight sour cherries.

T - sweet taste upfront balances out with a slight sour cherry flavor and a woody, bittering dryness on the finish.

F - medium bodied with mild carbonation.

D - a nice, tasty beer to sit and relax with.

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Photo of Buebie
4.22/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a 1 year old bottle.

Poured from a bomber into a surly tulip, semi-rigerously, producing a 1 inch sudzy head. Settling to a thin cap and a thick colar of white, beaten egge white consistancy.
The color is a hazy tarnished gold. A good amount of carbonation rise.
Lace coates the glass and has created rings all the way down.

Aroma of spices, fermented cherries, cloves, the cherries becoming more pungeant and sweet as it warms. A mild aroma of lightly toasted oak. Straw and a purfumy sweet water logged white bread aroma. This is a consistant and good smelling saison, that has held up well with age.

A carbonation crispness up front with more smooth carbonation through to the swallow. Its a bit slick with some creamyness provided by carbonation.
The taste is sweet up front, with a blasting of cloves, bitterness through the middle. I want to say hops, but I'm not sure that is acurate, based on thsi bottles age. Roasty cereal grains, some oakyness into the swallow with plenty of fermented cherries backing this up. Finishing dry crisp and slightly bitter.
Its almost berry like through the middle with a decent sweet fruity taste. Definatly balancing the bitters that take over into the finish.

This is a solid saison, excellent example of the style. Saison is one of me least favorites brews, but at $3.00 for this bottle. I could not pass up the chance to review it.
I recommend if you are into fruit/ saison styles. It has held up well to age and all the boozyness has droped out.

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Photo of kenito799
4.2/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into mini-pilsener glass.

Amber brew with very little head, fizzy.

Lots of wood in the nose, and some sweet cherries. The fizzy, fairly light, dry mouthfeel conveys a crisp fruitiness up front, the lots of woody bitterness. At first the oakiness seemed out of blanace, but as th ebeer warms the flavors work together better and became quite delicious. Underlying a mild saison funkiness is present but not as apparent as most saisons.

Interesting experiment, quite unique, quite good.

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Photo of Rudgers73
4.2/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a standard pint glass from the bottle. The beer is cloudy with high carbonation. As the carbonation settles, it reveals a deep golden color beer with a hint of peach color. I'm assuming this bit of pink/peach is from the cherries that it's brewed with. The aroma is very similar to the best examples of traditional Belgian Saisons. It is very light, mild, with a metallic, and herbal undertone. CO2, light brett funk, grassy.

The taste is pretty interesting. I'm going to be honest and say that I hesitated on buying this one because I thought oak aging a saison was a great idea, but the cherries was the worst possible idea they could think of. I am glad to say that the cherry is very subtle, and it doesn't taste like fake cherry syrup. The flavor/mouthfeel is bold. Bone dry, spicy, and I'm picking up more brett characteristics from the french oak staves. The oak imparts tannins that give the end of the sip a tobacco/hay taste. A good transition from sweet and light up front to dry, oaky, and peppery at the end.

As far as drinkability goes: take out the cherries and you have yourself a 5. I guess I just don't enjoy fruit in my beer... but the other aspects of this beer have a lot of good weight behind them.

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Imperial Cherry Saison from Southern Tier Brewing Company
3.53 out of 5 based on 329 ratings.
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